Friday, September 11, 2020

Adapting to New Realities

Travel

A lot has happened since we last wrote. We loved spending a few days with David and Shelby in San Luis Obispo, California and snuggling with our new granddaughter, Evelyn. What a precious gift from God!


We traveled back to Quito from California. We were required to have a negative Covid test in order to enter back into Ecuador. We are thankful that God provided and we received the results in time to travel. Our travel day was mostly uneventful and we arrived back home safely. The only crazy part started about halfway through the flight from Miami to Quito. The young man sitting right next to Scott started to cough and sniffle, and it continued for the rest of the flight! Another requirement was to spend our first 10 days in quarantine at home, and it certainly seemed like a good idea this time. Thankfully, we never saw any aftereffects from our concerning social interaction!

When we got back, we were happy to find that we can order groceries online and have them delivered right to our door. Things are still much more restricted in Quito than what they were in Kansas. Masks are required everywhere outside of our home, including in our car. We are only able to drive 3 days a week. The curfew continues, but it has been extended to 11:00 pm. Churches are still not able to meet together.

Alliance

Unfortunately, because of the economic situation caused by the current challenges, Alliance Academy has been greatly affected. They lost about 200 students (over a third) and had to let many staff and teachers go, Kristi being one of them. Pray for wisdom for Kristi to know how best to use her time. She has started physical therapy here in Quito and continues to see improvement in her shoulder recovery. 

Lindsey started 10th grade this year and is studying online. She misses the daily physical contact with friends and can’t wait for the day when she can actually go back to school and not have to be on the computer all day long. 



Teaching

Scott has a couple of upcoming opportunities to teach online. The first is only a potential since the dates haven't been set yet. It's for a group of pastors in Chimborazo Province whom Scott has taught before. This time they are asking for more training regarding the inductive Bible study method. They are hoping to get something organized on Zoom for September. Since these guys are mostly rural, the technology and bandwidth is a little more of a challenge. You can pray that God would enable them to study together. If it works it could open the door for more frequent classes for an area of the country that doesn't have as many opportunities.

The other opportunity is more certain. One of the Quichua believers has made initial efforts at starting a seminary that will function online permanently. He invited Scott to teach an overview of the Old Testament starting in November. The big challenge is that for now they are only meeting one hour per week. It will take a long time to finish the whole OT at that pace! The key will be to start with the Pentateuch and see where things go from there. Some of Scott's work in the next month and a half will be to map out a plan for the upcoming sessions in this class.

An App for That

Some of you are familiar with goTandem, an app for cell phones from Back to the Bible. They have given Avant Ecuador the opportunity to develop our own app using the same platform. We created one called UME Ecuador. It will send daily scriptures, devotionals, Bible teaching and prayer requests to anyone who installs it on their phone.


Scott has been learning how to manage the app, and he recently finished getting it ready enough to start promoting. Pray that many people will give it a try. Pray that God will use it to connect people more with the Scriptures and with quality Bible teaching. Maybe it will be an especially useful tool for these challenging times.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Heading back the long way!

We are proud to announce the birth of our baby granddaughter, Evelyn Louise Edgren! She was born to David and Shelby on July 15, measuring 8 lbs 13 oz and 21 in. We are traveling to California to see them for a few days starting August 4. From there we will travel back to Ecuador on August 10.


We are thankful that there are currently no restrictions blocking our return to Quito. We will be required to submit negative results of a Covid test in order to enter the country. The test needs to be done within 7 days of arriving in Quito. Pray that we will be able to get tests done in California with quick results.

After arriving in Quito we will be required to quarantine for two weeks again. Kristi and Lindsey will return to classes at Alliance Academy on September 1. It looks very likely that the classes will be online to start. Pray for a good adjustment back to school. Alliance expects to lose many students for the coming year because of economic challenges. Pray for the health of the school and that this year will be full of opportunities to touch people's lives for Christ.

Kristi's recovery from shoulder surgery has been going as well as expected. She has a doctor's appointment on Monday when she expects to get confirmation that she can abandon her sling and begin more intensive therapy. Pray that she won't lose ground with her recovery during the three weeks of our transition back to Ecuador.

Scott continues to be involved a little with ministry online. After we return to Ecuador he hopes to increase his involvement with this. Pray for the right opportunities to come together.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Kristi's Recovery

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for Kristi. Her shoulder replacement surgery went well. She has been doing physical therapy for over a week and has already seen a little progress. She needs to wear a sling for six weeks. Some of her current challenges are sleeping in a recliner and eating with her left hand. For now her physical therapy is mostly stretching and working a little on restoring range of motion. In early August she will move toward rebuilding strength.

Scott has continued a little bit of ministry involvement in Quito from a distance. Leading a small group from Kansas is about the same as from Quito when we'd have to stay at home anyway!

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first grandchild. The news could come any day now! Pray for Shelby and David during the last stretch of pregnancy and the first days of parenthood.

The pandemic remains an issue in Ecuador. They have relaxed restrictions a little, but things are still tighter there than they are here. They are also seeing an increase in cases lately, especially in Quito. Pray for mercy.

We are hoping to return to Ecuador approximately August 8. There are so many uncertainties about international travel right now that we are delaying the purchase of our tickets. Pray that God will enable our return when the time is right.

Scott will be preaching in Kansas on July 26. Pray that God would lead him to bring an important message from God's Word.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the ministry in Ecuador. Avant has continued to receive donations that enable us to do our work. We don't take you for granted, and the challenging times are demonstrating more than ever your commitment to the team!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

An Exercise in Hope


The prophet Joel brought God's Word to his people in the middle of the devastation they faced due to a plague of locusts. He communicated a message of both judgment and hope. The plague they faced may have been bad, but he warned that worse judgment was yet to come. And yet, God promised to care for his people and give them good things even beyond imagining.

The plague we face today also carries a message of warning and hope. While I wouldn't want to claim that Covid-19 is the judgment of God on any specific sin, God may very well desire to use it to prompt us to evaluate our relationship with him. And he certainly wants us to find our only true hope in him, no matter what the circumstances around us might be.

Just like much of the world, Ecuador is taking small and gradual steps toward opening back up. This country has been hit very hard by the virus. The official statistics don't really tell the whole story. Here is an article that explains it well:

New York Times

Up to now most of the cases have been in Guayaquil where they are now seeing things stabilizing. Things have been better in Quito but the numbers are still rising. There is a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead, but many people feel that the economy needs to re-open for now. The economic consequences have been huge, and the price is high, especially for lower-income families.

The impact of the crisis is being felt very strongly. As of yesterday 38 Quichua pastors have died as a result of the coronavirus. Of course, many more lay people, family members and unsaved neighbors and friends have become victims. Pray that all of God's people will speak truth into the tough situations around us. Pray for courage, boldness and trust.

Trip to the US

You might remember that Kristi had a shoulder replacement a year and a half ago because of arthritis. We have known that the other side would need to be done sooner or later. In January we realized it was becoming "sooner" since her pain has been affecting the mobility and performance of her right arm. We scheduled surgery in Wichita for June, but that has obviously been in doubt for several weeks. We are thankful that it looks like we will be able to move forward with those plans.

We will travel to the US on May 31, spend two weeks in quarantine, and prepare for surgery on June 23. Kristi will focus on recovery and rehabilitation through July. Then we hope to be able to return to Ecuador in August.

Kristi will continue to teach 4th grade at Alliance Academy via Zoom, and Lindsey will finish up her 9th grade year on June 12. They are looking forward to the summer break as it has been tough doing school online. Scott will probably find a mix between ministry in Ecuador, contacting supporters in the US and caring for the needs of the family.

Family

Here's an update on our boys. David has been without a job since February but there is a promising opportunity that might come together soon. We're thankful that Shelby's job has continued.

Joel has been working and doing an internship at a church in LA to help with their children's ministry. That has been at a standstill with no church services, so the church has encouraged him to feel free to move on instead of staying through the summer. He is planning on joining us in Kansas for the summer and hopes to find painting work there.

Luke is working at a camp in Missouri this summer. This camp is for foster kids, so is considered an essential job this summer, even though most camps are not able to open. Pray for him to have opportunities to touch the lives of these boys.

Pray

Please pray regarding our upcoming travel which will be a very unusual kind of trip. Pray also for help for Kristi's shoulder. And let's pray together that we can all learn the lessons that God has for us during these unusual times.

Hope

The prophet Joel promised a future day when God would pour out his Spirit on all. That day has come! (Acts 2:16-21) At least...partially. And like Joel, we still await a future and perfect fulfillment of his promises. We're living in a great time in history--a great time to exercise our hope!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

In the shadow of his wings

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! 
I look to you for protection. 
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings 
until the danger passes by.
Psalm 57:1

Like much of the rest of the world, we are currently in lockdown in our home in Quito. We can leave to buy groceries, but that's about it. It's a good time for all of us to seek mercy from God. Whether we need protection from illness or patience while we stay in shelter, God is the refuge we must rely on. May God use this time to make our hearts more receptive to him. May he also open doors to give us more influence in the lives of others whose hearts might also be extra receptive.


Three weeks ago Alliance Academy was in the middle of Spiritual Emphasis Week. It seemed that God was doing some important ministry through the guest speakers in the lives of the students. Unfortunately, that ministry came to an abrupt end when the mayor of Quito closed all schools in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first couple of days, Lindsey was able to study at home in the company of her friends.


On March 15 Ecuador closed it's borders and went on lockdown. You can read a translation of President Moreno's speech here. Since then, we have barely been out of the house. Kristi is teaching her fourth graders online. There have been a few challenges getting it to work smoothly, but we are mostly grateful for technologies that didn't even exist a few short years ago!


Early in March Scott received a visit from a Quichua man named Segundo who is looking for help to plant a new church in his community.


Segundo was planning to accompany Scott to his next workshop on Bible Study in Chimborazo. He was excited to meet some other leaders there who could help guide him in the church planting ministry. Unfortunately, all of these plans have also been put on hold due to our current reality. Pray for God's blessing on the life of Segundo and for God's perfect timing.

One of the important tasks God has laid on Scott's heart is to help promote missions in Ecuador, encouraging the national church to send out missionaries to the rest of the world. In March he began teaching a course in cooperation with Encamina, a Bible and missions training center in Quito. He taught the first class and then everything shut down. Thankfully, with a little bit of creativity and hustle they were able to move the classes to an online format with Zoom. Scott expects to continue his involvement in this ministry for the near future.


It's incredible the way life has changed so quickly for all of us. Just like you, we have had to make some pretty big adjustments. Pray that God would make this a fruitful time of ministry in the middle of a new situation. Let us know how we can pray for you. Together we can make it through this. We can all put our trust is the unchanging God of the universe. No matter what the coming weeks and months bring, we know we are under the shadow of his wings!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Back to "normal" ministry!

It's been good to be back in ministry in Ecuador and start to feel like we're in our normal routine.

Quichua conference

Last month I (Scott) had the privilege of presenting two sessions at a weekend Quichua conference. There were about 40 people attending, several of whom are key leaders in various parts of the country.



In one session I presented a historical and contemporary perspective of the work of Avant Ministries in Ecuador. In the other I challenged the attenders to consider their responsibility in global evangelism. The Ecuadorian church needs to take serious steps toward being a missionary sending country. It was encouraging to see their positive reaction to this message. Pray that God will continue to move them in this direction in the coming months and years.



I was also considerably encouraged by learning to know the other speakers at the conference. They were both men that I had not previously met. They are Ecuadorians involved in leadership on a national level in other organizations. They brought good quality messages and it was good to see the Quichua leaders turning to faithful servants on other fronts as well.

Elder Team

One of my responsibilities is serving as elder of our church in Quito. It feels great to be back with the team and work to help our church grow. The frustrating part is that there never seems to be an end of needs and ministry opportunities. Pray that we can prioritize the most important things and do this job well.

William

The other day I had the joy of meeting with a young man for some one-on-one training. William was really searching for a way to study the Bible that would help him catch the message the Lord has for him. I taught him some basics of inductive Bible study and he seemed truly grateful. Pray that William will learn to put good Bible study methods into practice in his personal life. Pray that God will guide me regarding follow up he might need.


Lindsey's Schooling

The first semester at Alliance ended last week. This week Kristi and Lindsey have off of school between semesters. Next week Lindsey will jump full swing into school for the first time for several weeks since she finished 1st semester in the US. For the past couple weeks she sat in on classes to help get a running start for second semester.



She was also able to get in on the beginning of the basketball season. We're proud of her for making the varsity team. We enjoyed her first game last week. It's not quite the same as basketball in Kansas, but we're definitely thankful for the opportunity Lindsey has to do something here that she loves so much.

4th Grade

Thank you for all the prayers as I (Kristi) jumped into teaching 4th grade at Alliance Academy in the middle of the year. My class had been praying for me and was excited to welcome me back. The best word to describe January was "new". New names, new classroom, new grade level, new procedures, new co-workers, etc. But God was with me and I was able to help my class finish up their 1st semester. Pray for continued strength as we begin 2nd semester on Monday.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Equator!

We are thankful to God that he allowed us to return to Ecuador on December 11th. We worked hard at settling into our apartment before our children began arriving for the holidays. Both Luke and Joel are able to spend 3 weeks with us and David and Shelby were here for a week over New Year's. It was the first time in 2 1/2 years that we were all able to be together. We have enjoyed time enjoying the sights and sounds of Ecuador again as a family. We have much to thank God for!



Today Kristi returned to the classroom. She is teaching 4th grade Math, Science and Bible. There are 39 students between the 2 teachers. She has already spent a couple of days in the classroom getting things ready. Please pray for both Kristi and her students with this transition in the middle of the year. Above all, pray that Kristi will be a light to her students.

Scott will also begin teaching again this month. He will be participating in a conference that is scheduled for the weekend of January 17-19. He is responsible for two different sessions. Pray for him as he prepares for this time. Also pray for him as he begins to accept other teaching opportunities again.

Lindsey finished up her semester in Kansas before Christmas and will have a break here as 2nd semester at Alliance doesn't begin until February 10th. She is going to join the basketball team starting this week as they are just beginning their season. She also plans on sitting in on classes a bit as well to help the transition back. She is missing her friends back in Kansas. We are so thankful for how God abundantly provided during our time in the States. Now we are trusting God to once again surprise us with his loving care as Lindsey adjusts back to Ecuador.

We are thankful for each of you and the encouragement you have been to us with all of your prayers and giving!

Scott, Kristi and Lindsey